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Aged 28, Rypdal […] formed his Odyssey quintet in 1975, and part of this three-disc set is the band’s debut studio album – a mix of dreamy sustain-pedal sounds, orchestral string-synth effects, and bursts of percussion-heavy rocking. The other two CDs (featuring previously unreleased material with Swedish Radio’s big band in 1976) represent the beginnings of the guitarist’s career as a composer. The pop-song structure of Better Off Without You, represent a very different Rypdal, and the guitarists’s nine-part Unfinished Highballs suite is a kaleidoscope of ghostly woodwind scoring and church-organ sounds. It’s an intriguing extra chapter to the Rypdal story.
John Fordham, The Guardian

‘Odyssey’ ist ein zentrales Werk des norwegischen Gitarristen, weil er hier zu seinem einigartigen Ausdruck fand – nicht nur was sein einmal wehmütiges, dann eruptives Spiel an der elektrischen Gitarre, sondern auch, was seinen Stil zwischen John Coltrane und Jimi Hendrix betrifft. Der Free Jazz der Anfänge zeigt sich hier nur noch in kurzen Ausbrüchen, die Spannung in eine sonst meditativ wirkende Melange aus rockigen rollenden Patterns und nordisch-melancholischen Stimmungsbildern bringen. Gerade ‚Rolling Stone’ zeigt, wie Rypdal und seine vier Mitmusiker die meist einfach Motive gemächlich auf- und ausbauen, sie im luftigen Zusammenspiel kaum variieren. Sie ziehen den Rhythmus nur langsam an und lassen ihn wieder auseinanderfallen – eine optimale Basis für die Solo-Exkurse der elektrischen Gitarre oder der Posaune. Auf diese Weise schaffen die Musiker auch lange Spannungsbögen, nicht nur innerhalb einzelner Stücke, sondern innerhalb des gesamten Doppelalbums.
Gz, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

[...] the new, unedited Odyssey is a monster. The opening Darkness Falls lets Rypdal's guitar work flood in, as if from a hilltop. You can almost see it approach. The rest of the album shifts between layers of pastoral cool and massive, jagged expression. The piece de resistance, though, is Rolling Stone — the lengthy piece omitted from previous CD editions of Odyssey. Its construction is essentially transparent. The listener can discover guitar lines that recall John McLaughlin's electric work with the Mahavishnu Orchestra (but taken at a slower, more purposeful pace) woven one atop the other. Colored by Brynjulf Blix's orchestrations on organ, the resulting music waxes and wanes with an epic, enchanting sweep. The music sounds as rapturous as when Rydal first designed it 37 years ago.
Walter Tunis, Lexington Herald Leader

While it is good to have all of Odyssey available again – a previous single CD reissue omitted ‘Stone’ – the real news here is is the first-time release of the ‘Unifinished Highballs’ suite. Here the Odyssey band, minus Sunde, is joined by the 15-strong Swedish Radio Jazz Group in an extraordinary 1976 performance of what must rate as one of Rypdal’s most most expansive or inclusive – and successful – works.
Michael Tucker, Jazz Journal

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